There’s a lot of confusion about what is a heat stroke. Below we lay out the key facts about a heat stroke in clear, plain English so you understand what one is.

Well, although it is called a heat stroke,” it is not exactly a type of stroke (these include hemorrhagic stroke, a transient ischemic attack, or a mini-stroke.)

During a stroke, a blood vessel that transports oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked or ruptured, causing the brain to starve of oxygen and nutrition (or ruptures). When this occurs, a portion of the brain is deprived of the blood (and oxygen) it requires, and it, as well as brain cells, perish.

However, a heat stroke is different from that. Let’s talk more about it below.

What Is A Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when your body overheats. 

It occurs when the body’s temperature management mechanism fails: the body’s temperature rapidly rises, the sweating mechanism malfunctions, and the body cannot cool down.

Heat stroke is the most severe type of heat injury and is a medical emergency.

How Does Heat Stroke Happen?

Heatstroke, the most deadly type of heat injury, occurs when your body temperature increases to 104 F (40 C) or greater within 10 to 15 minutes. 

This is most commonly due to extended exposure to hot temperatures or physical effort in hot temperatures. Summer is the season when the illness is most prevalent.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Because heat stroke can be deadly, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and treat it immediately.

The following are the indications and symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Elevated body temperature. A core body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or greater, as measured by a rectal thermometer, is the primary indicator of heat stroke.
  • Affectation of one’s mental state or actions. Heat stroke can cause confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures, and coma.
  • Sweating pattern changes. Heat stroke is a condition caused by excessive heat. Your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, if you are suffering from heat stroke due to hard exercise, your skin may feel dry or somewhat damp.
  • Vomiting and nausea. You may feel queasy or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. As your body temperature rises, your skin may become red.
  • Breathing rapidly. You may notice that your breathing becomes faster and more shallow.
  • Heart rate is racing. Your pulse may elevate dramatically due to the immense strain placed on your heart by heat stress to assist in cooling your body.
  • Headache. You may get a throbbing in your head.

Heat stroke demands immediate medical attention. If left untreated, it can swiftly cause damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. 

The longer treatment is delayed, the worse the damage becomes, raising your chance of serious complications or death. 

If immediate care is not administered, heatstroke can result in death or lifelong disability.

What to do About Heat Stroke

If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, call 911 immediately or transport the person to a hospital. Any delay in obtaining medical attention has the potential to be lethal.

While you wait for paramedics to arrive, begin administering first aid. Transfer the individual to an air-conditioned environment – or at the very least a cool, shady place – and remove all excess clothing.

If possible, take the individual’s core body temperature and administer first assistance to bring it down to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Circulate air around the worker to expedite the cooling process.

If feasible, swiftly chill the person with cold water or an ice bath; moisten the skin, apply cold, wet cloths on the skin, or immerse garments in cool water. 

You can bring body temperature down faster by cooling areas where veins are closer to the surface. These points include the wrists, neck, chest, armpits and temples. So, apply cool air, damp cloths, or ice to these areas first.

In conclusion, heat stroke is very dangerous, so in times when it’s scorching outside, be mindful of the symptoms and precautions of this condition.

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